Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Kids’ thank you notes for bicycles

August 4, 2009

Click this link to read the Thank You notes from the kids who received bikes from West Chester Cycle Club.

This is why we are doing this!!


Donated bikes from Devereux

July 20, 2009

Hello All,

Yesterday, I visited Kevin Coffey,  the manager of the bike facility at the Devereux  Whitlock center, in Devon.  He is very open to donating and/or lending bikes to  establish a Neighborhood Bike Works in Norristown.  He had already heard about the incidents on the trail.  He told me that the Devereux foundation is in complete support of  programs that help disadvantage children.

I told him that I would contact him when we are ready to bring bikes on board.  We are talking about bikes that are user ready, as well as ones that might  need some repair or cleaning and adjustments.   These bikes have been donated to the center.  Some are fixed up  then sold or are donated to support charitable programs. I have donated and bought bikes from the center.  Yesterday, I bought a 20 inch BMX bike for my granddaughter. 


Dose of Reality

July 6, 2009

I met Bill at the SRT Trail clean up last week.  For two decades Bill has on his own been providing bike maintence training, safety training and mentorship to disadvantaged youth in Reading.  I told him about our initiative. Here’s an email from Bill that is a dose of reality. BTW, I take Bill’s insights as a heads up not as a deterant from our mission. Working under the auspicies of Neighborhood Bike Works does address some of these issues.  Another BTW, I did ask Bill his permission to publish his email since it contains personal info.  Please don’t worry that if you ever email me sensitive info that you will then see it on the blog!  Lisa


Before your group dives into this project you should seek legal advice regarding liability issues.

This is something I had to weigh in my helping of neighborhood youths.

Suppose you provide a bicycle to a youth who then is struck by a car.  A parent or guardian could claim that had you not given a bicycle to the child the accident would not have happened.  The same might be claimed if you fix a non-working bicycle for a child.

Anything of any value here is in my wife’s name alone.  I started legally carrying a handgun, for protection, in 1992 after 8 weeks on crutches.  At the time I was doing case law research for an attorney friend of mine.  He suggested the wife ownership thing in the event I had to use the handgun to protect either of us.  Without nothing of value in my name no fast-buck lawyer would think of taking me into court to recover money for anyone I had to shoot in self-defense.

Several years ago a neighbor child came to me to fix a flat tire on his bicycle.  He then headed out the street.  Two blocks away he failed to stop for a stop sign and ran into the side of a moving car.  Luckily his injuries were minor.

In my neighborhood most children raise themselves on the street.  They usually have a mother who has had numerous male friends who either ignore the children or simply physically abuse them.  They have no one to guide them.  But if the children are injured the mother looks upon it as having hit the lottery.

Generally these children are out late at night and often into the early morning hours.  Just running the streets.  When riding a bicycle they totally ignore traffic regulations.  With this increased risk comes the increased risk for anyone who helps them keep the bicycle in riding condition.

I don’t know about Norristown but here in Reading bicycle theft is a major problem.
Several years ago I had showed the kids the frame number on bicycles and told them to write them down in the event the bicycles were stolen from them.  A few weeks later they start bringing bicycles to me where the frame numbers had been ground off as one might see on a stolen handgun.  In this neighborhood I see bicycles rescued from scarp piles and some stolen from other children.  That is when I started to slowly back out of the whole project.  Since then I have become more selective on who is allowed to come here for bicycle repairs.

As I had told you.  I have been able to teach a number of children how to do their own bicycle repairs.  That number is small compared to the ones who will simply walk the neighborhood looking for a working bicycle to steal.

Last week I got to talk to the Deputy Sheriff who was patrolling the Norristown section of the SRT.  Also the Norristown police officer who was at the brush clearing  work detail.  I was told that Norristown is following in the footsteps of Reading in the number of rental properties  going into Section 8 housing.  If you talk to the police they will off the record tell you that most Section 8 rental properties become drug problems.
Three years ago I had a 13 year old boy bringing bicycles to me to be fixed.  Rarely the same bicycle twice.  A few freshly painted indicated that they had recently been stolen.  Now this boy had several older brothers.  So I took a closer look at this particular family.  Watching the older boys using the bicycles to deliver drugs.  The 18 year-old brother used a cellphone to take the orders.  Using the younger brothers to deliver the drugs to the customers houses.  The whole operation being as if they were in the pizza business.
I still see a few of these deals at night in this neighborhood.  In Feb. we had a drug dealer move into a rental property 4 houses from me.  I watched youths as young as 11 or 12 years old wheel up to the house on junk 20 inch bicycles and then pedal off to make the delivery.  Often they were picking up the drugs for another family member.

Your project has lofty goals as far as getting the “inner city” youths active in riding bicycles.  But once you get an inside view of what these youths do with their time and their bicycles you begin to have second thoughts.  Some of these youths mounted on the typical 20″ bike have become problems on the Thun Trail here in Reading.

You might want to think about another approach to this project.
Here in Reading we have 3 police officers mounted on bicycles.  Acting as Community Officers.  The one who patrols this section of Reading is a friend of mine.  The other week he had a morning at the grade school up the street.  Schooling 8 youths on safe bicycle riding, minor repairs, etc.  He provided the youths with safety helmets.
The other week we saw the West Norriton officer and a Norristown police officer in a tent at Betzwood with a number of helmets and bicycle safety brochures.  You might consider teaming up with the police in this project.  It might look better in the community and provide some degree of protection from being used by the drug dealers and thieves.

Sincerely, Bill Knight


No problem with posting my message(s)on the blog.

Another observation of late.

Two or three years ago the streets around here were full of
youths out on 20″ bikes.  Especially when school is out for
the summer.  This summer I see only a few and I am not
seeing kids showing up to get their bikes worked on.

The local economy is such that I see no new bikes with the
kids.  Added to that is the bike theft problem.  Few of the
parents allow the kids to store the bikes in the house or
apartment.  Left out in the yard overnight and they are
gone.  Even those locked with cables or chains.

The few bicycles I see now are late at night and mainly drug
dealers riding them.


George working to find a home for Norristown NBW

July 2, 2009

Bill Plichta is saying he has 2 possible sites and is researching a 3rd….Leland I included you so that you would be up to speed re this important component …ie a place to call home in Norristown for this project…..Leland you may recall Ronda volunterred to craft some press releases when this project gets legs…you were going to forward some base written material to use as a start …I cc’ed her on this email so that you 2 could connect on that aspect of the project
I’ll touch base with Bill about the locations on Thursday …
 a place in bike heaven to all
George Miller

Flower Garden Rest Stop in Norristown?!

June 26, 2009

Below is from Tom To Atlee- as in Burpee.  Atlee did respond that his family no longer owns the company but he did give Tom contact info of the new owners.  I love this idea!

Hey Atlee,  I just had an idea that I wanted to bounce off of you.
There’s an effort to clean-up that area along the SRT in Norristown where the female cyclist was attacked. Could we turn that area into a beautiful flower garden and make it the most scenic area along the trail? I’m thinking of a scenic floral rest stop at that location with benches and beautiful flowers. We could call it the “Burpee Bike Garden”. There’s a group of COS cyclists involved in an initiative to obtain bikes for disadvantaged Norristown Youth. Our plan is to teach the kids cycling skills and then take them out for rides with us.The  “Burpee Bike Garden”  could be a potential meeting place for the rides. I  think it would also be great publicity for the Burpee Seed Company. We have a woman who plans to get media attention for this community outreach and I’d  like to integrate the “Burpee Bike Garden” into the overall program if this seems like something you’d like to take on and support.  Since you’re also a cyclist I thought this might appeal to you. I also know you’re a very busy guy and no offense taken if you decide to decline.

Breakaway Cafe’, Bikeworks, and various comments

June 21, 2009

Unfortunately I’ll be out of town next week so I won’t be able to attend the meeting, so I’ll put in my 2 cents here.  I would like to volunteer my time towards whatever program takes shape.

 Now my comments:

   Teaching the local youth to ride and getting them out on the trail is great, but one of the limits to the appeal of such a program is the availability of bikes.  

   I take it that the initial thrust will be to obtain donated bikes in working order from COS/SCU/BCP riders.  This is a good start but won’t sustain the program for long.

  Does anyone know if a Neighborhood Bike Works or similar program has been tried in Norristown?  It would seem to be a promising environment for an integrated program like NBW, which involves training in riding and mechanics, then allows kids to earn a bike by fixing it up and learning to ride safely (  Along with volunteer time, such a program would require some facilities for storing and working on bikes.  Someone at the Norristown meeting mentioned interest from the Norristown director of recreation.  Perhaps he can help?   Another (short term) option might be to see if the owner of the former “Breakaway Cafe” building (Bike Path Professional Building) is willing to lend it out while he looks for a tennant, as the building is empty now.

* I like the idea of getting the teens out for ride from COS, but that may not be appropriate for younger riders.  Have you thought about what to do with them?

 Thanks for volunteering to lead this!  Please let me know how I can help.

 Mike Lonetto